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Naked robot no fashion threat
She appeared naked on the runway with a body that will never succumb to age, but a new robot model’s first fashion outing at the Tokyo Fashion Week posed no threat to supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Monday’s appearance of the HRP-4C humanoid robot at a fashion show illustrated not only how far robots have come, but also how far they still have to go.
She shuffled forward a little, looking a little unsteady on her feet, introduced the fashion show and bowed. Then she shuffled back again. And that was it.
“We believe this is Japan’s and perhaps the world’s first humanoid robot to walk on two feet and resemble the average body type of a young Japanese woman,” says Shuji Kajita, director of humanoid robot engineering at National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan, where HRP-4C was made.
But the 95 pound, 5-ft 2-inch tall robot with a face based on Japan’s anime cartoons is no supermodel, despite multiple motors in her body and face to help her show the expressions, gait and poses of one.
She wore no clothes on her silver and black frame that had more of a stormtrooper finish than a fashion model look. But the $2 million machine may yet be a step forward for robot-kind.
Rather than being built for cleaning windows, housework or other practical tasks like Japan’s other 800,000 industrial robots, this one may be the ancestor of the first robotic super model — in a few decades.
“Our robot can’t move elegantly like the real models that are here today,” Kajita acknowledges. “It’ll take another 20 to 30 years of research to make that happen!”
Photo credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai